For Wolverines Defenseman Jack Kennedy and his parents Todd and Andrea, the decision to commit and play for the Waywayseecappo Wolverines last season turned out to be more than they could have asked for.
Based out of Prior Lake, Minnesota, Jack committed to play for the Wolverines last summer following a recruiting trip south of the border for Wolverines Head Coach and General Manager, Taylor Harnett.
Jack played Section 2AA Minnesota State High School Hockey in the South Suburban Conference for Prior Lake before joining the Wolverines, where he played 50 games as a rookie, scoring 8 goals and 12 assists.
For most parents, sending your son to another country to play hockey would leave you with some worry and doubt whether or not you are making the right decision. To shed a bit of light on some of the unknown, Wolverines Director of Marketing and Communications, Erik Swar interviewed Todd Kennedy about his families experience with the Wolverines.
ES – Erik Swar, Wolverines Director of Marketing and Communications.
TK – Todd Kennedy, father of Wolverines Defenseman, Jack Kennedy.
ES – Overall, what was your families experience like with sending Jack north of the border to play hockey for the Wolverines in the MJHL?
TK – “To us, the most important thing was to feel that our son was going to be in safe hands with people that cared for him, more importantly off the ice. In our own experience, it couldn’t have been better. Unbelievably helpful and supportive coaches and Jack felt cared for, valued and important. Not just related to hockey, just life in general.”
TK – “Equally as important was his billet family. He ended up with an unbelievably caring billet family, can’t say enough about them. Most of the people in our position, it’s their first time sending their child away, and for some, they are sending them hours and hours away or a country away.”
ES – In your opinion, how was the hockey aspect of the experience and how would you compare the level of play to what you are familiar with in the United States?
TK – “We couldn’t be happier with the way the hockey went. From the development, support, patience, and teaching it was top notch. He never felt pressured or like he couldn’t make a mistake, he felt he was there with people that cared about him that wanted to teach him about life and hockey.”
TK – “I would say it’s very similar to the North American Hockey League (NAHL), it’s high-level hockey. There are kids that get drafted, there are kids that play Divison I, and kids who move on to play at a number of different levels of college and university. There are definitely a lot of high-level players and I think colleges feel the same way, it’s a very competitive league. It’s an underappreciated league until you do some research and look into it and notice that it’s the real deal.”
ES – Sending Jack away to live with a billet family and play Junior ‘A’ hockey…what did it do for Jack as a person?
TK – “It was great for him to be somewhat on his own. He came home more mature, more responsible and maybe more appreciative of life in general. We were having conversations with him over the phone and then in person when we would see him and the conversations would be at a different level then they were at before. I think he came home more well-rounded.”
ES – If there’s anything else that you could shine a light on for other families who are in the situation you were a year ago, what would that be?
TK – “If we had a do-over, we would do exactly the same thing. Look at every pre-game and post-game interview from Taylor. The way he talks and the message that he sends, if you look at those and don’t think it’s a good spot for your kid to be, then I don’t know what kind of spot you’re looking for. ”
TK – “That’s exactly who I would want my kid to play for with that type of philosophy, mindset, and care. We personally couldn’t be happier. I played in the MJHL, NCAA Division 1 then coached college and in the NAHL. I have a pretty good measuring stick for what it takes to be successful in hockey and what high-level coaching looks like and it’s there in Wayway and we feel like we completely lucked out having Jack end up in Wayway.”
If you are considering making the jump to come to play for the Wolverines and have questions about the program, please feel free to reach out to Head Coach and General Manager, Taylor Harnett by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.